Blemishes

31 Oct

Today, I had the opportunity to take a day off work. Professorgrrl had a meeting about 80 miles away in a town with a major university. We decided to meet my parents for lunch, to celebrate my mother’s birthday, which is tomorrow, and then afterwards, while professorgrrl had her meeting, I would walk around the campus with my camera and take photos if I came upon something interesting.

I debated which camera lens to take with me on my walk…the short one, which is good for architectural shots (which I like to take) or the long zoom lens, good for close-up shots. I took the short lens and began my trek. I was in a city, after all, with lots of buildings and I felt sure I would find some interesting angle of some old building to shoot. When I am in “shooting” mode, my senses, especially visual, are on high alert.

I walked about two blocks and noticed this large, old oak tree. Though gnarly, and very halloweeny-looking at night, I’m sure, it still bore the leaves of the passing season. What really caught my eye, though, was a large knot hole way up in the tree which had another knot hole inside of it. “Wow,” I thought, “I have never seen anything like this.” I think it’s amazing that I have lived 52 years and I can still see something new. Of course, I had my short lens, so I knew it would be a waste of time to photograph it, because the knot hole would be so small in the picture. I continued walking and decided I would go back to the car and get the zoom lens later after I had walked around a block or two.

While walking, I pondered this “blemish” of the oak tree. I wondered how many people had walked by this very tree and had never noticed the blemish inside. There are many of us who walk around with obvious physical blemishes. I think, perhaps, because they’re so obvious, we are forced to reckon with them on some level. I know I have…both as a child and as an adult, whether I wanted to or not. My “abnormal” gait has always been so visibly obvious, that I had to deal with the questions and stares and even negative comments from an early age. My childhood doctors were constantly encouraging me to practice walking like a young lady. My mother had me to balance books on my head and practice walking with them down our hallway.  It was very apparent to me that there was a right way to walk and a wrong way to walk. I am sure the doctors and my parents all had my best interests at heart. However, one time I practiced making myself walk “ladylike” in front of my sister and I asked her to tell me what she thought. She said it looked funny when I tried to do that because it didn’t look like ME. That was the last time I ever tried to fix my gait. It was too hard anyway.

Then I began to think of the folks who walk around with a hidden blemish…like the knot on the inside of the larger knot of that oak tree. Perhaps others don’t know what is happening inside of them, and so no one knows that the person with the “inner blemish” might need help or encouragement. I wondered today, as I walked past people on the street, if someone I passed might suffer from depression or anxiety or learning disabilities, but they keep that part of themselves hidden because it is just easier to hide than to risk being singled out or feeling like an outsider. Sadly, they might also miss out on getting support from others because no one knows their pain. I had no choice but to deal with my blemish…it could not be hidden. In some ways, I feel very fortunate, if for nothing else but to hear my sister imply that I should just be ME, which includes walking the way I naturally walk. You can spot me a mile away…

So, these were my thoughts as I ambled around this afternoon. I did return to the car, exchanged the short lens for the zoom lens and returned to the old oak tree with the “blemish within a blemish.” I sat down on a stone wall, and lifted the camera to take aim at the knot hole and got a big surprise!

I laughed out loud. “Banjogrrl,” I thought, “maybe sometimes you can overthink a thing…”

Copyright S.G. Hunter and Banjogrrldiaries, 2012-2017

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